Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Lunch Room - Ann Arbor, MI

                The Lunch Room started as a Food Cart located in the Mark’s Carts Courtyard.  With much success and a growing fan-base they were able to sign a lease in the Kerrytown Shops and offer more seating, hours, and food.  This is when I found them.  I was following their story through Facebook, I don’t get to the area Mark’s Carts is set up during serving hours since my offices are not within walking distance to get there and back again with a chance to eat in the middle.
                Now located in the Kerrytown Shops I can walk there on lunch for a little treat from their desserts, or sit for a bit to eat.

                The addiction started with a (not so) little Macaroon, and I have to admit that I like them more than Zingerman’s Macaroons.  Great moisture and they have chocolate on them!

                I had to go back and get a macaroon for Rob, they are one of his favorite cookies, but they didn't have them the day I went back.  I couldn't walk out empty handed to I got a doughnut, raspberry lemonade, Yum!  I tried again, still no macaroons that time either, so I had to try a cookie, mexican chocolate chip, the spice builds on that one, Yum!  Finally got a macaroon for Rob and he was delighted, and picked up a pumpkin whoopie pie for myself  :)

                I worked up the courage for lunch and tried the Banh mi chay: The Lunch Room’s take on this classic Vietnamese baguette sandwich with marinated baked tofu, carrot-radish pickle, jalapenos, and fresh cilantro and mint with garlic mayo. Served on our housemade baguette  $7. 

                With the balanced flavors and wonderful textures, it is truly amazing to believe that they are 100% Vegan!  That’s right folks, they are a vegan restaurant. 

DINNER SPECIALS: start at 5pm each day
Monday - Sushi night
Tuesday - Taco night
Wednesday - Pizza night
Thursday - Asian night/ Indian night
Friday - Pasties night
Saturday - Pizza night

Learn more about The Lunch Room on Facebook or on their website: http://thelunchrooma2.tumblr.com/

More about the current food carts with Mark’s Carts:

Eat Well !
~ Kate

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Zingerman’s Roadhouse – Ann Arbor, MI

Zingerman’s Roadhouse is part of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. 
Located in a renovated old Bill Knapp’s restaurant, it opened its doors in 2003.  We heard various reviews; some people were hoping to have a deli outside of downtown and were not sure what to make of a restaurant featuring American Foods done really good.  Although they do offer a few sandwiches on the menu, more on the lunch menu, it is more about classic American dishes.

Due to the selection of wonderful foods, and that they change up some of the menu items regularly to keep things new and exciting, I will be offering posts featuring each section of the menu. 

As for the ambiance and service:
As mentioned, the building is a renovated Bill Knapp’s restaurant, but you would never know for the look of it now. 
A trailer out front is a drive thru for orders you call in for pick up, or for the quick menu offered thru the Roadshow.
A big Neon sign hangs above the entrance to the Roadhouse.  As you walk inside you will see the whimsy nature of the design all around.  Collections of Salt and Pepper Shakers are in cabinets hung throughout.  The graphics are playful and big blue circles hang above the kitchen pass to display the “blue plate” specials.

The Staff:
Such a great crew!  I must admit we are a bit bias now that we have gotten familiar with about half of them and one of our friends has been working there for almost two years now.  These people know the food that they serve.  They try all the specials so they know what they are serving to you.  If you have a question, do not hesitate to ask, they are happy to help.  If you have any food allergies or concerns let your server know, they will work with you to find something you will like or see if the chef can adjust something for you.  The chefs are consistent about what comes out of the kitchen.  They know their food and do it well.

The Prices:
Ok, so I hear a lot of people look at the menu and go “the prices are so high”.
First off, it depends on what you get.  If you are going for a full three course with a steak and cocktails, your bill will quickly rack up, but if you actually take the time to enjoy the flavors you will appreciate every penny of it.  On the other hand, if you consider how much food you can comfortably eat and maybe sharing the appetizer and/or dessert you can get your money’s worth out of it.
The quality of the food is outstanding at the Roadhouse.  Take home food and reheat it in the oven if you have the means to, otherwise share the plates.  Let you wait staff know if you are sharing a dish and they will bring it out on separate plates for you, no extra charge like some places I have seen.  

More information about the Roadhouse can be found on their website:  http://www.zingermansroadhouse.com/
Explore the menus, click on ‘the food’ for some great info about the food and their recipe for Pimento Cheese! 

Top image is a Zingerman's graphic, a perfect example of their unique style.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery - Ann Arbor, MI

The time has come to talk to you about our favorite Brew Pub, Jolly Pumpkin.

                We discovered their wonderful mirco- brews years ago, and found them available at some of the local stores.  The brewery is located just west of Ann Arbor in the Village of Dexter.  They craft wonderful tart ales, and have won awards throughout the years for some of their special blends.
Here is more about the Brewery:  http://www.jollypumpkin.com/artisanales/beers.htm
Oh, and they are also a Distillery, crafting their own Vodka, Gin, and Rum (to name a few).

                Located on Main Street in Downtown Ann Arbor is the Jolly Pumpkin CafĂ© & Brewery.  There is seating in the main room along with the bar, the Upstairs along with a bar, and in the summer there is rooftop seating.  They offer a Lunch and Dinner menu, along with specials for Lunch, Dinner, and weekend Brunch.

                We have tried almost everything on the menu, from every category.

                Appetizers are wonderful if there are just two of you, or a full party table.  Small delicious bites with the locally sourced Farmer’s Frittos is always a good choice, but with extra friends going for a Butcher Board is a diverse way to go.

Squash Frittos

                Salads, Pizzas, and Sandwiches … Oh My!  Don’t forget to check out the specials! 
                It is hard to pick out a favorite at the Pumpkin, dish is crafted so well.  One of Rob’s favorites is the Fire and Smoke pizza.  I have learned to recreate a similar pizza at home, but this one still rains supreme. 

                I tend to surf the menu at lot, I love trying new things.  Getting a chance to enjoy a short run special is always a treat.  During the summer I got to have the Steak Special with a Korean BBQ sauce.

                There is plenty of food so take some home, just remember to reheat it in the oven for the best flavor.  Preheat to 350’ and cook tray of deliciousness for about 12-15 minutes.   This will help you save room for some dessert.  You can go light with a scoop of their amazing Vegan Ice Cream (they use coconut milk), or enjoy something warm like a cobbler or the Ricotta Fritters (they make their own fruit reduction of course).

For more information about Jolly Pumpkin and all of their locations, visit their website:

More to come on the Brunch Menu!!!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tomukun – Ann Arbor, Michigan

                I have decided that I need to get downtown and pick a new place to eat on the weekends if I weather permits.  Being that we are now officially in winter and we live in Michigan, it may not always be the best conditions to drive into town.  I will do my best to get to new places, as well as getting you updated with the tasting reviews.
                I have found most Asian restaurants in our area much Americanized: lots of breading, frying, and sauces.  Having spent time in Hong Kong and Taiwan when I was younger, along with having friends throughout the years from the countries in that part of the world, I wanted more authentic foods.  The dishes they make at home are wonderful and that is the taste and experience I want to continue to have.
                I simply stumbled into going to Tomukun online.  I was searching the restaurants in town, scrolling down the names, clicking to look at the menus.  I clicked on the link for Tomukun and was first drawn in by the beautiful photos of their food, You had me at Hello!  Clicking my way through the menu I loved the diversity of the dishes.  Primarily a noodle bar, but the flavors and combinations offered are from various regions.  This was the place to try, and I was not disappointed, they Knocked My Socks Off!


I decided that I wanted to try a few things to get a feel for food
Drink, well they have a full bar offer various beers and mixed drinks.  I went for the Kirin Ichiban, a pale lager, wonderfully crisp, light, and refreshing.  A good choice for light foods, it will not interfere with the aromas of the noodles to come.

Kirin website: http://www.kirin.com/


Starter:  Tako Yaki  (with Octopus)

The first one I ate whole and it melted in my mouth.  Wow!  Wait a minute, don’t these have octopus in them?  Second one, I bit in half to look inside.  Yup, there was a small piece of octopus (perfectly cooked to tender), surrounded by dough and fried.  Went for the full bits on the last two, glad I didn’t have to share those tasty treats.
More on this dish here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takoyaki


Noodles:  Duck Udon

I am a fan of duck and was impressed with the meat served in the broth.  No skin or fat was on the duck meat, it actually had crispy bits.  Yes, that is right crispy bits while in broth, I was giddy!  With the bowl of noodles you also have a jumbo spoon, this helps you scoops out tasty bits, but don’t forget about the broth, once all the pieces I could get with my chopsticks were consumed I could not stop slurping the broth. 


Since I had such amazing food I had to bring some home for Rob.  He stayed home to fix something with his computer, but I had to share the goodness.  He was going to get the Butter Corn Raman, so I ordered that carry out along with Dumplings and Pork Buns.  One of the best things about the carry out is that they package the broth separate from the noodles and other ingredients, no soggy or mushy bits!  Reheated the goodies for dinner, Awesome, Awesome, and Awesome! 
The Pork Buns were appetizer size, if you want full pork buns check out Belly Deli on South University.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Jerusalem Garden - Ann Arbor, MI

A high school friend introduced me to Jerusalem Garden in the summer of 1990, right before we started college.  I was hooked with the first bit of their Falafel with Hummus.  I continued to visit and always ordered the Falafel…. at least for the first 8 years I went there.  The Chicken Shawarma was the next sandwich I tried, amazing!  Once again, a perfect sandwich with fresh ingredients.  I stuck with that sandwich for a couple years, than started surfing the menu.  Never once have I been disappointed.  They are now a regular weekly stop for great food, good staff, and comfort food.
                Jerusalem Garden is known for being a local Cheap Eats spot, but they in no way skimp on the food.  If you like Middleastern food, or just want to try it without spending a lot of money, stop in! 
                BONUS:  They serve RoosRoast Coffee !

The Chicken with Fattoush Salad is our go to meal , we get it with rice pilaf.  It is plenty of food, enough for either two people, or two meals. 

They offer various cookies for dessert.  I was not a kid that grew up on rice pudding, but this is a fun dessert.

They have their menu up on the website, check it out:  http://www.jerusalemgarden.net/

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Casey's Tavern - Ann Arbor Michigan

Both Rob and I work for the University of Michigan, live in Ann Arbor, and play in Ann Arbor.  There is great energy here that I just have not found anywhere else.  Rob grew up in the Suburbs, I have tried to escape Ann Arbor, but it is home and we love it here.
Restaurants have come and gone, and right now Ann Arbor is a hub for amazing food, frequently referred to as the Foodie Town of the Midwest.  Sometimes you just want that hometown comfort of good food and good people, and that is what we Love about Casey’s Tavern.   Located on Depot Street, just across from the Amtrak station, this little gem is within site of one of Ann Arbor’s more well-known establishments, the Gandy Dancer.  Casey’s offers a more laid back, neighborhood feel then the formal Gandy Dancer.  Hang out with friends, grab a bit to eat and maybe a pint or two.
                I started going to Casey’s a few times with co-workers when I started working down the road at the Medical School.  I finally convinced Rob to try it out for his birthday dinner in 2007, if I remember the year correctly.  Suzanne was our waitress and treated us like old friends even though we had never met before (at least not in this life time).  Customer Service and how the staff makes us feel when we go to a restaurant is an important part of the experience for us, and Suzanne had us hooked with her smile, laughter, and unconditional friendship.  It was like meeting up with an old friend again.  As we have become regulars there over the years, the usual staff on Friday nights skips to the good beers on tap for out pint selections, and we are even on the call list for when they have Etouffee on the Specials (only a few times a year). 
We have a plush Monkey (Nigel, he’s from England and loves pubs and pints) that frequents restaurants with us; some of the staff got to know his name before they even knew ours.  Nigel likes the attention, we don’t mind, until Steve takes him to the kitchen to met the cooks… he comes back and gives Nigel a cigarette and a shot of vodka… I hear there was a deep fryer scare, Yikes ! 

Nigel Loves the Etouffee:

So… The food!

                The Winter menu has a Meatloaf sandwich (one of Rob’s favorites).  They have a Tuna fish sandwich, but bring it up a notch for the Salmwich… That is right, a Salmon sandwich.  A wonderful selection of sandwiches to chose from, burgers and grilled chicken, hot dogs and brats, salads, tasty appetizers, various specials and desserts.

                   Casey's Favorite is a unique version of a Rueben: Turkey, Pastrami, Slaw, and Dressing.

Their website:    http://caseys-tavern.com/

~ Kate

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sharing makes everything taste better

I think that how we are exposed to food as children effects how we view food as adults.
With that thought, here is a little about the food exposure that Rob and I had growing up.

As a child I ate foods from various cultural backgrounds.  My parents were immigrants from Germany and Austria.  We had tenants from all over the world that were like extended family to me, including grad-students from countries like India and Japan.  For me food was about sharing, showing acceptance, and hospitality.
When I visited my Grandparent (both sides) we picked our vegetables fresh every day for the meals.  Almost everything was made from scratch.  With my Dad’s parents we even went to visit the local Amish families for foods like milk, eggs, butter, and some meats.  They lived in the middle of woodlands so hunting for deer and rabbit was always a tasty treat for a special meal.  Summer fishing in the fresh streams for rainbow trout was a light lunch to keep the energy going while we hunted for berries and mushrooms in the woods.  Taking part in gathering and making the food you eat connects you to it, makes it taste better because you know and understand the work it took to get the ingredients.  The more I was involved with the processes of preparing food the more I understood the flavors and how they fit together, enhancing my enjoyment of preparing meals.

                Rob comes from a more ‘American’ home then I did.  His family had a garden so he became aware of and connected to the food as well.  His exposure was not as broad as mine, but he enjoyed home-cooked meals that I didn't have… traditional foods like biscuits and gravy, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, and jello molds (sometimes with other foods floating in them).

~ Kate
                As a couple we have both continued to expand our tastes and really think about the food we eat, the flavors and how they make us feel are a big part of experience.  We like to say “Sharing makes everything taste better”  J

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Blog Reboot

We originally started this blog back in the summer of 2008, we did not post on a regular basis or about specific things at the time.  A lot has gone on since then and we are really enjoying the food and drink in our area and when we travel.  Many of our friends enjoy what we share about the food on Facebook and usually ask us more about the food we take pictures of.  Because of them I am starting the blog back up to share our Dining and Drinking in the Ann Arbor area and when we travel.
Please feel free to join the conversation in the comments ask any questions you want about the food, the drink, and/or why we chose something.

So, to tempt your eyes... I give you..... The Walleye Po'boy with Truffle Fries from Jolly Pumpkin Cafe, located on Main Street in Ann Arbor Michigan

They serve a pickled Zucchini spear with all their sandwiches, a nice refreshing change from a pickle.
In the upper right is a lovely glass of IO saison